Monday, February 25, 2013

Predicting the Opening Day Starting Rotation

There are more than a few question marks when it comes to the 2013 Twins starting rotation. Two potential starters are coming off of Tommy John surgery, two other players had bone chips removed in the offseason, and three players are trying to make the switch from the National League to the American League.

This could cause a lot of headaches when it comes time for the Twins to hammer out a projected Opening Day starting rotation. Some players might end up on the disabled list because they need extra time to get ready. Others might end up in the minor leagues to show they are ready for big league action.
Who gets the start on Opening Day? The most logical choice for Twins fans would be Scott Diamond. He is coming off a very good rookie campaign where he went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Diamond also had the lowest BB/9 rate in the American League.

Unfortunately, Diamond had surgery on his elbow in December and he might not be ready for the first week or two of the regular season. This leaves the door wide open for another starter to get the Opening Day gig against Justin Verlander and the Tigers.

Mike Pelfrey, a free agent acquisition by the club, has looked good as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. There can be some speed bumps on the road to recovery so there could be some hiccups throughout the rest of the spring. If he continues to look good, he might be the front-runner for the Opening Day job.

His competition for the first start of the year could be Vance Worley, one of the pitchers acquired from Philadelphia for Ben Revere. Like Diamond, Worley had some bone chips removed from his arm but his surgery was at the end of last season. This means he should be ready for Opening Day.

Which players will fit into the middle of the rotation? If Pelfrey and Worley are set to take the first two spots in the rotation, the middle of the rotation will present some interesting battles. There are a handful of men vying for these spots and a couple names should rise above the rest.

Kevin Correia was the only free agent starter to get a multi-year contract from the club this winter. His two-year, $10 million contract has been scrutinized by fans and the media. This deal should almost guarantee him a spot in the rotation to start the year.

The Twins have used Liam Hendriks for over 100 innings in the last two seasons. Since there are some openings in the rotation, it could be his first chance to play at the big league level for an entire season. He had great success at the Triple-A level last year and it's time to show he can find success at the next level.

Who gets Diamond's spot in the rotation? With the possibility of Diamond missing time to start the year, a spot could be available for someone to sneak in and grab it. There are a few options at the Twins disposal and it will be interesting to see which direction the club decides to go.

Kyle Gibson, a former first round pick, is coming off Tommy John surgery but he has looked very good in camp so far. From the team's point of view, they might want to keep him in the minor leagues to start the year so they can control over his contract for longer. This could mean he won't debut with the club until a few months into the season.

At the end of last season, the Twins used Sam Deduno for almost 80 innings. His 15 starts with the club were full of some ups-and-downs but it still might be enough for him to earn the fifth starter job. When Diamond is ready for the rotation, Deduno will likely end up back in Rochester.

There is still plenty of spring training left to hash out some of the battles for the starting rotation but here is what it could look like if today was Opening Day.
1. RHP Mike Pelfrey
2. RHP Vance Worley
3. RHP Kevin Correia
4. RHP Liam Hendriks
5. RHP Sam Deduno

That's a whole lot of right-handed pitching action...


Eric Pleiss said...

Sam Deduno? Say it ain't so, Cody!

NoDak Twins Fan said...

It's scary but it could happen